After the Railways Ministry revealed that Beijing was unwilling to fund the programme due to issues about the permitted cost, Pakistan again sought China to consider financing the single largest China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, the $6.8 billion Mainline-I (ML-I) project.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal made the proposal during a meeting with Chinese Charge d’Affaires in Pakistan, Miss Pang Chunxue.
Iqbal also informed the Chinese envoy that his administration would handle the issue of a Rs300 billion payment delay to Chinese independent power projects (IPPs), which caused 1,980 megawatts of generation capacity to be shut down.
According to a ministry official, Miss Pang promised Iqbal that her administration will consider the request to support the ML-I project during the review meetings.
Following his return to office, Ahsan Iqbal convened the first CPEC review meeting last week, at which he made a number of decisions to get the CPEC back on track. The Ministry of Railways stated during the meeting that “the PC-I of the ML-I project was not possible due to expenses not being acceptable to the Chinese side,” as evidenced by papers.
Iqbal further requested that the topic of Chinese concerns be brought to the attention of the new Minister of Railways, Khawaja Saad Rafique, as well as a full report.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the building of the ML-1 project in three phases at its meeting in August 2020.